One mistake, one wrong turn, one bad decision can lead to a world of hurt for you and your family. You may be experiencing that now if you are serving time for a federal drug offense, such as trafficking, conspiracy or felony possession. Many federal crimes carry lengthy mandatory sentences, and you may be a long way from the release that will reunite you with beloved family members.
Fortunately, the U.S. government is re-evaluating the policy of mandatory minimum sentences for many non-violent crimes, particularly drug-related offenses. Beginning with the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, lawmakers have been studying the effects of mandatory sentencing, and federal agencies have developed programs to accelerate rehabilitation and achieve early release for qualifying inmates. Under the recently passed First Step Act, you may be eligible for such a program.
For many families across the country, the passage of the First Step Act brought a glimmer of hope. Your family may be among those anxiously waiting for you to complete the mandatory sentence for your conviction. However, you may be eligible to speed that date along by earning credits through participation in various programs the Georgia prison may offer, including:
- Parenting skills workshops
- Relationship-building programs
- Drug or alcohol counseling
- Academic classes to earn your GED or get a degree
- Vocational training
- Entrepreneurship programs that encourage leadership skills
- Personal mentoring
- Counseling to help you develop skills for successful re-entry into society
- Programs to show you how to make a positive difference in your community upon release
Successfully completing one of these programs earns you credits, and those credits translate to days off your sentence. As long as you remain in good standing and your behavior does not indicate that you are a risk for re-offending, you will be moving forward to a better life. The system of credits can be complicated, however, and in some cases, the number of credits you earn depends on how many grams were allegedly in your possession at your arrest.
Even if you have exhausted your chances for appeal, you may benefit from discussing your case with an attorney to learn more about how you may be able to reduce your sentence through the First Steps Act. Your legal counsel can provide an honest evaluation of your case and offer skilled guidance for taking the most appropriate next steps.